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Garwoods ordered to pay taxes, penalties

June 10, 2009 | 08:54 AM

Two Mauckport women who had 240 dogs seized by the Indiana Attorney General's office for alleged tax evasion June 2 had a restraining order and injunction filed against them in Harrison Circuit Court Thursday afternoon.

Alan Stewart Volunteer Nadine Allee of Valparaiso holds a yorkie mix as veterinarian Rachael Jones, left, also of Valparaiso, prepares to deliver a vaccination June 2 at a warehouse in New Albany. The dog was one of 240 seized last week in Mauckport. Photo by Alan Stewart (click for larger version)
While there are no criminal charges filed, in a civil case delivered by the state, Virginia Garwood and her daughter, Kristen, are accused of failing to pay $132,000 in back taxes and will be required to pay $3,000 in attorney's fees.

The attorney's fees will be paid in $250 monthly installments beginning July 7 and due on the seventh day of each month. The injunction says the Garwoods are jointly and severally liable for the fees.

With penalties, interest, collection fees and clerk costs, the total amount the Garwoods must pay to the state is $284,735.88, according to court documents.

A temporary injunction accepted by the Garwoods and the state prohibits the defendants from doing business in Indiana until their tax liabilities are paid. According to court documents, the Garwoods are prohibited from "selling, procuring, trading, breeding, swapping, or otherwise transferring dogs, puppies, or canines in Indiana or across state lines."

The injunction also says the women are to immediately register with the Indiana Department of Revenue for an Indiana Registered Retail Merchants Certificate for all business they do not involving the sale of dogs (the Garwoods also sell farm animals).

After the hearing in front of Circuit Court Judge H. Lloyd (Tad) Whitis, the women were escorted to a back staircase by their counsel, Gordon Ingle, so they could avoid the media as they left the Harrison County Court House. A cameraman from WHAS-11 television showed Kristen Garwood running from the building.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, 22 of the 240 dogs have made it to the Windy City and are up for adoption.

According to the Humane Society of United States, once the dogs are ready to be adopted, which will depend on any illnesses or injuries the dogs may have as well as vary by shelter, the dogs can be adopted by contacting the shelters individually. They are as follows:

New Albany Floyd County Animal Shelter — 1-812-948-5355

Humane Society of Kentucky — 1-502-366-3355

Humane Society of Missouri — 1-314-951-1562

Bloomington Animal Care & Control — 1-812-349-3400

Humane Society of Indianapolis — 1-317-872-5650

Humane Society Calumet Area — 1-219-922-3811

Humane Society of Northwest Indiana — 1-219-938-3339

Pet Refuge — 1-574-256-0886

Dauschund Rescue of North America —

Case against women started by LaHue

The case against the Garwoods started as a result of an investigation initiated by Harrison County Animal Control Officer Bruce LaHue.

LaHue said he had 18 complaints from customers who had purchased dogs that got sick soon after they were bought. According to the search warrant affidavit, LaHue was ordered off the property when he went to investigate the claims.

"We'd been compiling reports and evidence, and I was finally able to get the attorney general to take the case," LaHue said. "The USDA, the IRS, no one wanted to touch it. No one wanted to get me in there or get the dogs some help. There just wasn't enough visible evidence, and it was going to take a warrant to get to the dogs."

LaHue offered the AG office high praise for working with him.

"I was able to give them six months worth of classified ads, voluntary statements; I had to do some of the legwork to get complaints, then they did some undercover buys," he said. "I just stayed persistent with it, and it paid off.

"We have to work within the parameters of the law, so it was a long, slow process that paid off," LaHue continued. "My objective was to see that she never has the ability to do this again. Now those dogs are no longer living in a daily hell and, hopefully, justice will prevail."

LaHue said one thing he was able to see later were wire cages stacked on top of one another.

"The dogs on the top had the good life and the ones down below, not so much," LaHue said. "Another thing that tipped me off was that I showed up at a dairy farm and all I could smell was dog crap. When that happens, you know something's up. They had a lot of dogs there."

LaHue said the taxpayers of Harrison County were saved about $55,000 by the state's AG office taking control of the case. The Humane Society of United States footed most of the bill, he said.

"We don't have the tax resources dedicated to animal control to do the type of operation the AG's office did. They don't want any of those dogs to fall back into the Garwoods' hands so they take them all," LaHue said.

LaHue said allegations of puppy mills in Harrison County will be looked into and handled.

When it comes to purchasing a puppy, he said, be wary of cash-only transactions or places that won't allow the customer to see the puppy's parents or other areas of the breeding facility.

"There are a lot of reputable breeders in Harrison County, and most breeders will give you paperwork," LaHue said. "Most have a contract they have you sign, saying if you abuse the animal in any way, they get the dog back."

Customer refutes dogs' living conditions

At least one customer of the Garwoods said she had no problem whatsoever in buying a dog.

Jenny Tuell of Elizabeth purchased a black poodle earlier this year from Virginia Garwood and didn't see any of the conditions reported by the humane society or AG's office. Tuell said the dog she purchased was born in early January, and she was able to get the dog in late February.

"She had poodles and dachshunds and Yorkies, and I didn't see any of them that looked unhealthy or neglected or anything," Tuell said. "If I had thought for one second that it was a puppy mill, I definitely wouldn't have bought my dog there.

"I'm not going to lie. There were a lot of dogs there, but, to me and my husband, it just looked like a hobby. But I didn't see any bad living conditions," she said. "The dogs all had food and water, and I never saw any dogs covered in feces like what they said on the news."

Contrary to the search warrant affidavit, which said the Garwoods only accepted cash, Tuell said she paid for her puppy by check. She was told the cost of a poodle was $250 for a female or $200 for a male.

"When we went there to look at the dogs, they said they would have to hold the dog until it was weaned, so I gave them a $50 check to hold the dog. She held the check and called us once a week to let us know how the dog was doing. Once the dog was weaned, she gave us the $50 check back, and I wrote her another check for $250," Tuell said. "She offered to give us a receipt, and she gave me a piece of paper that said the dog had been immunized.

"I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful dog."

  1. print email
    June 10, 2009 | 04:16 PM

    How does the state intend on collecting what it is due. Can they force them to liquidate?

  2. print email
    New Albany/Floyd Shelter Rude
    June 12, 2009 | 05:58 PM

    I sent the New Albany Floyd County Shelter an email to thier published address on thier website shortly after this had happened expressing interest in adopting one of the dogs when they were available and leaving my contact information. I received a VERY RUDE reply and was told explicitly to NOT contact them about these animals. If you are wanting to help one of these animals, then I suggest you deal with one of the other shelters who maybe has more care and concern about adopting them out to homes.

    Janet C.
  3. print email
    Now let's get in line on the rest of the dog problem.
    June 12, 2009 | 06:27 PM

    Now Mr.lahue and the county should go after these Pit bull Breeders
    and owners located in subdivisions and populated residential areas
    make an ordinance and start enforcing it THE PIT BULLS HAVE TO GO !! If you know who the owners home insurance is call and report them ... .I can't even step out my door with out looking around first to see if they are loose. And as a responsible the Dog TAX should be enforced.

  4. print email
    Thank You Mr LaHue
    June 15, 2009 | 04:50 PM

    Thank you for hanging in there until you got results! Animal cruelty is a vicious crime and needs to be dealt with accordingly. Too many people get by with that kind of abuse.

    Rosalee South, member of the Sullivan County Hum
  5. print email
    Thank you Mr Lahue!
    June 17, 2009 | 02:32 PM

    I love the fact that you cared enough to do something about this horrific crime; not a lot of people would do that these days!
    To the other writers, I too, went with my mom to the Floyd County Animal Shelter to see if they had any of these dogs and they were rude to me; they said, we don't have them, we don't know where they are and when they will be eligible for adoption ... My mom did end up adopting a shitzu pup from them, but I was extremely nauseated by the time we left. poor animals!!

    Pamela Riehle
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